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Tajik Diary: What Not To Cover

A newspaper kiosk in Dushanbe: "All the news that's not about the government."

A newspaper kiosk in Dushanbe: "All the news that's not about the government."

It must be a tradition left from the Soviet-era that Tajiks still love reading newspapers.

People buy newspapers from kiosks as well as from vendors who sell random newspapers and magazines on the street.

The choice of newspapers, however, is getting smaller and smaller. Three independent publications "Faraj," "Paikon," and "Nigoh" were closed down by authorities last month.

They remain shut despite pleas and protests by local media groups, international organizations, and the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe.

Fearing a similar fate, other publications have reduced themselves to reporting on harmless topics.

The country's television and radio stations also largely avoid politics, or any topic that could anger authorities. Media criticism of the country's president in any shape or form is simply out of the question.

While the ongoing military operation in Tajikistan's eastern Rasht Valley has been widely discussed in regional media, for the most part, Tajik television and publications avoid discussing it.

"If it wasn't for Russian-language media, I wouldn't even hear that something had happened in Rasht or Isfara," says Nurullo Nurulloev, a resident of the northern city of Khujand.

"From Tajik television and media, I can tell you what's going on in Haiti or Chili, but they don't mention what's really happening at home."

It seems only state newspapers and tabloids can survive in Tajikistan's political climate.

-- Farangis Najibullah